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With an incumbent doing little campaigning and a well-healed challenger doing almost all his through television ads, this year’s mayoral campaign has been a bit slow-moving here on the ground.

That’s all going to change, at least for a little while.

It kicks off tonight with a mayoral debate at the Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center at 5148 Market Street. But there’s a catch: Mayor Jerry Sanders won’t be there. His campaign today cited “a long-standing personal commitment that conflicted” with the debate. As of the time of this post, the campaign hadn’t explained any more details on that personal commitment.

Challenger Steve Francis earlier challenged Sanders to a debate in each of the eight City Council districts citywide. The Sanders campaign, at the time, said the mayor would likely only have time for two or three.

Tonight’s debate is being sponsored by the NAACP, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Sanders is scheduled to be in attendance tomorrow night at the Rancho Penasquitos Town Council and Rancho Bernardo Community Council Candidates Forum at the Doubletree Golf Resort’s Heritage Ballroom on 14455 Penasquitos Dr.

The forum starts off with a District 1 debate from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.; the mayoral debate from 6:45 p.m. until 7:45 p.m. and a city attorney debate from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Sanders has confirmed that he will also attend the following debates:

  • The Earth Day Forum on April 20 in Balboa Park from 11:50 a.m. until 1 p.m.;
  • The Mid City Debate on April 30 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the University of San Diego’s Joan Kroc Center;
  • The city of San Diego Retired Employees Association Mayor Forum on May 13 at Balboa Park’s War Memorial Building (moderated by yours truly) from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.;
  • The Catfish Club/City Club/Chicano Federation/Asian Business Association Debate on May 23 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at San Diego Hall of Champions.

So, what do you think? Is Sanders debating enough or is Francis on point with his criticism that the mayor is spending his time on superfluous press conferences while ducking substantive debates?

Click here to e-mail me and let me know your thoughts. I’ll post some of the replies.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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